Spotlight: Stephen McIntyre
New Board Certified Specialist in Workers’ Compensation Law
What led you to become an attorney?
The ultimate goal of our profession should be to help others, and I knew that being a lawyer was a profession that would allow me to help people in need. I also enjoy the public policy side of the law—I always try to ask the deeper questions concerning why certain rules, statutes, and other laws are written as they are, and how that impacts people in their everyday lives, and in their encounters with each other and with the legal system.
What made you decide to pursue certification?
Pursuing the certification gave me an additional goal to achieve professionally and personally, and I quickly realized that going through the process was a great tool to challenge myself to become a better attorney. I also knew that the distinction would help me stand out to the public and among my peers.
What's the best thing about recently achieving that goal?
Obtaining the specialization felt like a validation of the work, research, and effort I have put into my workers’ compensation practice for my clients over the past number of years.
What is it like to work with clients seeking assistance with workers’ compensation issues in Lumberton?
I love my hometown. I came back here to help people like the clients that I represent. Most of my clients do not have a high school diploma, work in labor-intensive jobs, lack adequate transportation to medical facilities, and simply want to get healed and back to work because that is often all they know. Time and again my workers’ compensation clients are afraid of hiring an attorney for fear of employer retaliation, and only reluctantly come into the office after having a dispute with the workers’ compensation insurance carrier that they simply cannot resolve.
Generally, there are two challenges in my practice. First, trying to figure out who is the client’s actual employer, as often my client was picked up roadside by someone for a construction job on a job site where they are taken in a work van, They often don’t know what city they are working in, and are working for an employer who often does not have active workers’ compensation insurance and only pays in cash. Second, explaining to my clients the risks of trying a case versus settling a case, and attempting to explain the concept of odds of winning, losing, and maybe getting something in between to clients who often have little to no formal education.
I have, on multiple occasions, been asked at the initial client meeting what 25% of a total means in regards to the typical attorney fee approved by the Industrial Commission for plaintiff’s counsel. One can quickly imagine the challenges of trying to educate that same client about making an informed decision regarding his or her case on—often substantive issues they are facing in potential litigation—when they lack an understanding of things such as basic percentages and fractions. However, while every case has its challenges, the vast majority of my clients are extremely appreciative of the work that we’ve been able to do for them. Often, even the smallest of cases literally can be life changing for a client, as it often means—especially in denied cases—the ability to pay the electric bill, the ability to make a car payment, and the ability to get back to work again.
What activities/volunteer groups are you involved in?
I am a member of Kiwanis of Robeson-Lumberton, and typically emcee our annual large golf tournament fundraiser. Recently I rotated off of the Lumberton Chamber of Commerce Board. At Robeson Community College I teach a business law class. I serve on the University of North Carolina at Pembroke Business School Advisory Board, and I am a member of the UNC School of Law Alumni Engagement Committee. I have performed on multiple occasions as a dancer for the United Way of Robeson County in events such as a local Dancing with the Stars fundraiser, as well as partnering with my wife, Angelica Chavis McIntyre (an assistant district attorney), in a United Way Lip Sync Battle at our local civic center. My wife and I also enjoy going to local career day events in the public schools, especially at schools in extremely rural areas in our county.
Who is your role model and why?
I have always looked up to both of my parents, Mike and Dee McIntyre. They taught me to treat people with respect, regardless of their status in life or their current circumstances. They are a large reason why I moved back home after working in Wilmington. My parents instilled in me a great appreciation of my hometown and home county and the history we have here. I am passionate about encouraging our fellow North Carolinians to realize that our state is more than our metropolitan areas, and that our small towns need attention and investment from businesses, political leaders, and citizens so that we can all grow together.
Filed Under: General News